Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse

I fished in the Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse Lake the grand final over the weekend of May 17and 18th its hard to believe that it has already been a month and a half.

Having qualified for this final from the last two events at Esthwaite and Bewl the national lure team would be selected from this grand final and looking at the lineup a mixture of the seasoned lure angler and the up an coming lure anglers the competition was set to be a real fire cracker set on Llangorse a body of water known for good numbers of hard fighting jacks. For this event I was fortunate enough to be able to fish with one of my school buddies Daniel Brackley a qualifier from the Esthwaite event. Daniel is a great all round fisherman with a particular passion for lure fishing and the proud owner of a fully kitted out Skeeter boat probably the only one like it in the UK. Luckily for me I was going to be fishing off this purpose built fishing platform.

With my day job commitments I could only get away on the Saturday morning so had to leave Milton Keynes at about 4am to ensure I was at Llangorse lake side cafe for registration 8am sharp. I remember the drive being really easy as there was no traffic and before I knew it I was greeting Daniel and loading my rods and lure boxes into the back of his boat It was at this point that I really got excited as I got to glimpse my competition for the first time. It was really great to see the other boats the one of particular note was Gary Palmers a full time fishing guide, again a fully kitted out purpose built lure fishing boat have a look at some of my pictures and you can see what I am talking about.

We had soon gone through the process of registration boat launch and were waiting for the go ahead to get day one of the Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse started. Mike Skipper gave the go ahead and we set off for our spots. Both Daniel and I had been out to Llangorse lake for a scouting trip a few weeks earlier and it is fair to say we both had a pretty good idea of where the fish were going to be. As Daniel had actually spent a couple of days out there I agreed to go with his prime spot which turns out was the best spot for us. The area we were fishing had some great bottom structure and depth changes where the bait fish were holding. It became apparent as the weekend went on the key was finding these balls of baitfish as it was attracting the Llangorse pike. What made me questions things was the weather conditions it was flat calm with bright conditions, not exactly the most conducive to catching pike. With these conditions I started to think about what lure presentation I was going to start with as my previous idea of surface fishing with Spro frogs and burning spinner baits are not as effective in these conditions. I made the decision to switch things up slightly and instead of having five rods on the deck of the boat I set up four and took a more finesse approach.

The first day of the Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse started really well for me as I had hooked into and landed two fish on the 12 cm Quantum Specialist Battleshad rainbow pattern within the first hour. After another hour I had not landed another fish and Daniel had landed three I believe two of his were on the same size and pattern Quantum Specialist Battleshad. By now it was evident that this was going to be the lure of choice. During the day we went through periods where the pike where smashing bait fish near the surface when this happened I would quickly change over to my Quantum Smoke Baitcasting set up to burn my Battleshad just under the surface I had two fish on doing this but managed to lose them as I was swimming the lure with out a trailer hook, I do this because it helps keep the lure stable and as there was a a fair amount of weed in the area this presentation helps minimise the snags. I would however recommend that during competitions you use trailer hooks on all your baits. This is what fishing is all about for me learning from my mistakes.

The lure of choice for the weekend the Quantum Specialist BattleShad in rainbow pattern
The lure of choice for the weekend the Quantum Specialist BattleShad in rainbow pattern

I have to tell you a real funny A Fisherman’s Tale as told by Daniel Brackley on day one of the Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse. Daniel was recalling a story to me from a previous trip that he had to my local waters of how he had a bite that reminded him of a Bass bite from back in Zimbabwe, Daniel was showing me with the rod in his hand how he had a slack line and the line went “Donk” and as Daniel said “Donk” his line went “Donk” I could not believe it as Daniel struck into a great fish. I laughed long and hard as every now and again you hear of stories like this from other anglers. I just could not believe Daniels luck on this occasion. From this little bit of action I should have noted that the fish were biting the slower moving bait as I was still fishing relatively fast and not getting any bites.

I have my own story from the day albeit it not a “lucky fish story” more a “good deed done story” It was later in the day I had landed four countable fish and thought I was into my fifth pike on my Quantum Exo Spin set up fishing slow I had a soft take and an even softer fight from the pike however on reeling in I saw my lure come up with no pike on the end? I could not understand this as I could feel a fish fighting as I brought my line closer to the boat I could see what had happened I had picked up some trailing line and at the end of that line was what could have been my biggest fish of the weekend a 98cm double figure pike. As we netted this pike we could see why the pike had a trailing line. The poor fish had not one set but two sets of treble hooks lodged in its mouth Daniel and I quickly removed these hooks as we had the proper tools to hand. It really does surprise me that in this day and age there is still anglers out there that do not fish using the right equipment. On the one set of trebles there was not even a wire trace just tied straight to a week mono mainline. It just means that all of us as anglers need to do more to educate anglers on fish welfare especially if we want our future generations to enjoy the sport we love. We released the pike ensuring it had a strong kick, had we not been able to remove the treble hooks I have no doubt that the pike would have expired within a couple of days.

Day one ended of the Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse and I was sitting mid table for my 4 fish and Daniel was sitting comfortably in the top 6 for his efforts. We stuck to our plan and it payed off for both of us we were right where we needed to be. It was at the end of the day as I was un-loading my gear from Daniels boat that the tiredness hit me I really needed to get an early night to ensure that I would be awake and focused on day two.

Day two of the Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse came and I was awake at 6am going through my tackle and lures as I wanted to take a few different lures on the boat as the weather conditions had changed from day one where we had high sun and no wind we now had over cast windy conditions. In my mind I was saying “bring on the spinner baits and power fishing” I could not wait to get back on the water. On both days the take off was exciting as Mike bellowed start the engines were slammed into gear and we blasted off reaching max speeds of 10mph, It was odd as it was almost an anticlimax with the excitement of the day starting we were not getting anywhere fast with the speed limits imposed for health and safety. Daniel and I agreed we would go back to our original spot that produced all the fish on day one.

I started off the day in cracking fashion landing a pike within the first 10 minutes on my Quantum Exo spin set up, have a look at the video.

With the high winds we used the trolling motor a lot more to stay in our area which was not producing as well as the first day. Both Daniel and I had a feeling that with the wind there would be a current that would push the bait fish out of our key area into deeper water, well as the day progressed we found out thoughts to be correct. As Wayne Fletcher and Ron Dalton moved into the area and started catching fish almost immediately. The area we worked out they were fishing had a couple of really nice humps before dropping off gradually into deeper water. We needed to move spots and did so to the inlet at the top of Llangose where Daniel had found some good drop offs using his Lowrance units in pre tournament practice. It paid off for Daniel as he was able to land two good fish in quick succession on the Quantum Battleshad 12cm Rainbow pattern again. Speaking to Daniel he was fishing the lure slowly over the shallow water and then letting the shad drop as it came to the edge of the drop off. It was on the drop that Daniel was getting his bites. I tried to replicate this but could not get the fish to bite my lures in this area. We decided to move again to fish a large area of lilly pads that was relatively flat and shallow my idea was to burn through the area fishing with spinnerbaits I had the new 20gram Quantum Specialist spinner bait on in Bloody offspring pattern on my Quantum Exo bait casting set up and as well as the 32 gram Savage gear Da bush yellow hollo on my Quantum Smoke set up. It did not take long for me to hook into a decent fish on the Bloody Offspring but that was about it for the 30min we spent in this spot.

We then moved to a spot that I had marked on my Humminbird in pre tournament practice where I had found big shoals of bait fish and some really good bottom structure. With in the first couple of casts I frustratingly had a follow right up to the boat from a really good fish but could not get it to bite my spinner bait. I was still convinced that spinnerbaits where going to be the key bait. Daniel managed to land two really good fish using the new Spro Firetiger spinnerbait from this area. The next move would prove to be the pivotal moment for Daniel as up to now he only had four fish in the boat and we only had about on hour to go. We decided to move to our original area in the hope that this fish had moved back and that Wayne and Ron had not caught all of the fish. As we drifted into our key spot Daniel was into another fish again on the Battleshad fishing it slower, again I tried to replicate what Daniel was doing but could not catch the fish as he hooked into another fish 5 minutes after the last one. This went on a further 4 times as we drifted around our area and around Wayne and Ron who also seemed to be having a great day on the water. We called time cleared up our tackle and put our rods away. On the way back to the docks we gave Wayne and Ron a tow to help them get back quicker and get the boats off the water. We needed to get ready for the presentation and selection announcement. Team England Lure Squad Trials Llangorse was officially over.

Llangorse lake is beautiful the competition was fun and fishing off Daniels Skeeter brought back memories of Bass fishing in Zimbabwe the tournament overall was a fantastic experience for me as an angler and I had done my best but knew that I had not done enough to get into the top six because of the quality of the other anglers. I helped Dan take his boat off the water off loaded my rods and tackle back into my 4×4 for the long journey home. I could see the anticipation from the other anglers as we gathered back at the camp site for the announcement from Mike Skipper. The team selection could not have been a better one from the anglers present and I do believe that they will perform brilliantly for England at the World Champs in France later this year. You can read a more detailed report on the official web site from the weekend by clicking here. The team selected is as follows

Gary Palmer (Captain)
Sam Edmonds
Eric Edwards
Daniel Brackley
Rikki Cooper
Gary Edmonds
Evaldes Skablauskas(Reserve)
Ron Dalton(Reserve)

I must thank the Angling Trust and Mike Skipper for putting these selection tournaments together it takes a lot of hard work and time to organise these trials and I really enjoyed meeting all the anglers and having the opportunity to fish against the best of the best. A big thank you to my tackle sponsors for the ongoing support Quantum Specialist and Zebco Europe with out you I would not get the opportunity to use the best performance tackle on the market, and finally to my beautiful wife my rock solid foundation of support and encouragement you listen to my boring fishing tales with enthusiasm at the end of each fishing day because you know how important it is to me and wish me luck when I am heading out at 3;30am whilst you are still wrapped up in bed you really are the best. To all the other passionate lure anglers out there I would encourage you to participate in the 2015 trials it really is a great experience especially if you take tournament fishing seriously. I will certainly be back and I will be better prepared.

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